Alexander has never been in space, zooted around in zero-G, scored a goal in Z-Crosse or fired a legionary battle rifle. He’s never thought of standing guard on the bridge of the famous U.S.S. Iowa, which everyone says is haunted. Even though his parents are Citizens, life on post war Terra isn’t easy: few of the anti-grav units work anymore, the food synthesizer broke years ago and there are no spare parts, and labor-robots were outlawed in the last wars. Alexander lives the life of a nineteenth century farmer on 23rd century Earth, doing chores from dawn to dusk with school squeezed in between—at night he gazes at the stars, looking forward to the day when his father lets him go on his interstellar freighter runs. Everything changes on Service Day, when an officer from the Fleet visits school and hands him an appointment to the Space Academy. Thrilled, Alexander puts on a space suit and leaves the farm behind, but his excitement is tempered when he discovers that he’s the key to a galaxy-wide intrigue that involved his father—his father the farmer and freighter captain, or could he be something else?
The Methuselan Circuit is actually a spin-off (even a continuation of sorts) of the Alexander Galaxus series by the same author. It is however, more of a young adult, coming of age, kind of story than Alexander Galaxus. As can be seen from the book blurb we are following young Alexander leaving Earth for the first time and enlisting as a Cadet in the Space Academy. Given the name you might easily think that this is young Alexander Galaxus but it is not. We are in the future now and our hero from the Alexander Galaxus books are long gone.
The author paints a rather bleak picture of the future where, after the disappearance of Alexander Galaxus, religious fanatics take a stab at grabbing power and enforcing their extreme way of living…again. It of course had disastrous results with a civil war erupting and the Terran Empire is now reduced to a shadow of what it was. The author also revisits the concept of an asshole president with ridiculous Marxist ideas who does his best to deprive the fleet of the resources they need in order to buy votes by handing out free money to the slackers who want to work as little as possible for their money. The book is actually surprisingly full of fairly unconcealed political finger-pointing. Having spent the first half of my life in a pre-dominantly socialist country (and thus seen the effects) I cannot say that I disagree with the author’s criticism but, as I have pointed out a number of times in various reviews, I do not really want to read about politics, especially present-day politics, in my fantasy or fiction books.
If you filter out some of the politics the book is not really a bad book. The story is reasonably interesting although it is a bit marred by the bleak and somewhat depressing background. The book itself is well enough written, at least when taking the intended audience in consideration. Alexander makes friends as well as foes as the story unravels and there are the usual plots and sub-plots going on. I have to say that Alexander and the other kids seem a bit young for doing what they are doing though. It would have felt a bit more realistic if they would have been a few years older. Still kids but perhaps around 15 years instead of 12.
I guess you have to like young adult style book in order to like this one. I do so I liked it. It was not a super-great book but a decent enough and I will read the second one to see where the story goes.